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Jayne and baby Leah
Vaginal Delivery Without Drugs, Episiotomy

I slept poorly for most of the last month of my pregnancy, so I thought nothing of it when I woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep in the wee hours of December 21st, 2000. Without waking Joe, I went downstairs, had a snack, and sat in front of the television making lists of things that I still wanted to get done before the baby was born. While trying to get comfortable on the couch, I felt a trickle of fluid - enough that I wanted to change into dry pajamas, but not enough to realize what had happened! It wasn't until I reached the top of the stairs that I felt enough fluid to know my water had broken. Although it was only 4:00am, I woke up my husband. Big mistake. Joe was too excited to fall back to sleep and spent the rest of the night wiring a new light in the baby's room while I slept - needless to say, he was even more sleep-deprived than I was by the time Leah was born.

We called our doula at 9:00am that morning and took her advice to be as active as possible for the day. We packed up our bags into the car and spent the day walking at the mall and completing our Christmas shopping. With only irregular contractions that I could walk and talk through, we actually had a very romantic day. We happened to have a prenatal visit scheduled for that day and found that I was 1 cm dilated. Because I had no more amniotic fluid leakage, my doctor suspected that it was a hind leak and was not in a rush to admit me to the hospital (thank goodness). I spent the evening walking up and down two flights of stairs trying to get things moving along! At 10:30pm I gave up and went to bed, but woke with stronger contractions by midnight. When I wasn't able to tolerate the contractions any longer, Joe filled the Jacuzzi and I climbed into one of man's greatest inventions of all times. What an amazing painkiller. I let my hips float whenever I had a contraction and spent the next three hours relatively relaxed and comfortable. Eventually, I felt too much pressure to sit comfortably and thought it best to get out of the tub for a bit.

It wasn't until I was on dry land that I figured out why everyone said labor was painful. We called our doula, Michelle, who listened to a contraction over the phone and then came over right away. Michelle was wonderful. I think that it was because of her guidance and her prenatal education classes that we were able to stay home and feel calm for so long. I panicked a little waiting for her to arrive, but felt instantly better when she walked in the door. She took a few photos of Joe and I by our Christmas tree and applied counter-pressure to reduce my back pain during several contractions. When I began to feel nauseous and then felt the urge to push during a contraction she calmly suggested that we move along if we still planned to give birth in a hospital!

The car ride was hellish - beginning in the driveway when Joe insisted on getting out of the car to fix the garage door when it would not stay closed. I let him try once, but threatened him with his life the second time he stopped the engine and started to get out of the car. We hit the morning rush hour and I honestly thought we'd be pulling over and to deliver the baby on the shoulder of the road. The contractions hurt less, but it was very difficult not to push. When we got to the hospital, Joe was afraid to park in front of the emergency - the closest door to the maternity clinic. I made a few more threats and he jumped out and got a wheelchair.

The rest was a blur. Joe wheeled me into the Maternity Clinic and told whoever would listen that I was about to give birth. The nurses smiled serenely and assured him that everyone felt that way when they arrived. However, the pace got a little frantic when they did an exam and found that I was fully effaced and dilated and truly ready to go! I was supposed to have an IV antibiotic for GBS and they needed to get that into me before I could deliver. Waiting for nearly 45 minutes for the doctor to arrive and the antibiotics to be delivered was unbearable. It wasn't painful, but trying NOT to push is exhausting and frustrating. When the doctor arrived, and I could finally push, it only took about 35 minutes. The pushing was not at all painful, but was it ever hard work!

Our daughter made her entrance at 9:36 am on December 22nd, 2000. I had an episiotomy (painless as it was performed but the stitching up wasn't fun), but no other pain medications or interventions. We hadn't specifically planned a natural childbirth, but I'm glad it worked out that way. It was the most exhilarating moment of my life when I saw Leah Elizabeth for the first time. She had a little tuft of blond hair and big blue eyes and really seemed to be staring at us as if she knew who we were! We held her immediately and with Michelle's assistance, Leah latched on and breastfed for over half an hour. Joe was a natural daddy right from the start. We stayed in a family room in the hospital for 48 hours and he took care of both of us beautifully. We went home on Christmas Eve just after a nurse came to let us know that my sister had just given birth to a little girl named Cate, almost two months premature: tiny, but healthy. We're expecting our second child in five months and while there are parts of the labor that I clearly remember as painful, I am looking forward to doing it again. Leah and her cousin Cate are looking forward to the new baby.

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